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As a nutrition coach who works with clients that want to build muscle, I’m often asked if it’s better to take mass gainers before or after a workout to achieve better results.
The quick answer…
It is best to consume mass gainer after your workout because consuming an extremely high-calorie shake right before your workout could cause digestive upset and impact your performance. Additionally, the high carb and protein content in your mass gainer will be better utilized post-workout to replenish your muscles.
That said, if taking your mass gainer supplement post-workout doesn’t suit your meal schedule, there are ways you can take it before your workout without it negatively impacting your performance.
- Taking your mass gainer within 2 hours after your workout will help with muscle recovery and muscle growth.
- You can pair other supplements with your mass gainer like greens supplements, BCAAs, and creatine to optimize muscle growth and improve your health.
- If you’d rather take your mass gainer before working out, give yourself 2 to 3 hours to allow it to digest to prevent digestive issues.
Is It Better to Take Mass Gainer Before or After a Workout?
Although you can take a mass gainer supplement at any time of the day, it is better to take your mass gainer after your workout rather than as a pre-workout meal.
Mass gainer supplements are calorie dense and have a higher fat content, so if consumed as a pre-workout or shortly before you train it could negatively affect your digestion and the quality of your training session because dietary fats take longer to digest.
Additionally, consuming ample amounts of protein and carbohydrates that are in a mass gainer after your workout is beneficial because these nutrients will help to build and repair muscle and replenish depleted glycogen stores that were depleted in your training session.
However, even though it’s better to take mass gainer after a workout, it doesn’t mean that you can’t consume mass gainer before a workout, it simply means you need to be more strategic about how much you take pre-workout and how close to your workouts you take it (more on this later).
How Soon After a Workout Should You Take Mass Gainer?
If you are consuming your mass gainer as your post-workout meal, it is best to consume it within 2 hours of your training session because the body’s ability to rebuild muscle and replenish glycogen stores is enhanced after you exercise.
Can You Take Mass Gainer Before AND After a Workout?
Another strategy that you can try with your mass gainer is to split your daily serving into two, and consume half before you work out and half after.
Taking a portion of your mass gainer pre-workout and the other portion post-workout will help to reduce digestion issues while you train because you’ll be consuming a lower amount of fat which will be easier to digest.
Splitting your portion into two servings would also be just as effective for increasing your calorie intake as if you were to consume the full serving of mass gainer all at once.
For example, the Transparent Labs Mass Gainer supplement contains 800 calories, 53 grams of protein, 114 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of fat per serving. If you were to split this serving into two, then your pre and post-workout meal would consist of 400 calories, 26.5 grams of protein, 57 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of fat.
If you choose to take a half serving of mass gainer before your workout, you should still give yourself at least 1-2 hours to allow it to digest before working out.
Mass Gainer Before Or After A Workout: My Recommendation
As a nutrition coach, I recommend that my clients either consume their mass gainer supplement as their post-workout nutrition or split their mass gainer shake into two servings and consume half before and half after their workout.
In doing so, clients are less likely to negatively affect their sports performance due to digestion issues caused by mass gainers.
Most of my clients are taking mass gainers because they want to build muscle, so their performance in the gym is especially important and I don’t want them to compromise their results because of poorly timed supplementation.
That said, if taking a full serving of mass gainer before your workout is more convenient for you, then be sure to consume it at least 2-3 hours before you train to give your body a chance to fully digest it before training.
Other Supplements To Take With Mass Gainer
Along with your mass gainer supplement, there are additional supplements that you can add to your regimen to help you reach your fitness goals and improve your overall health.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Pairing a Branched Chain Amino Acids Supplement (BCAA) with your mass gainer is a great way to ensure that you are getting in all of the essential amino acids that are necessary for stimulating muscle building while potentially preventing any muscle breakdown.
Adding in a BCAA supplement will be even more crucial for individuals who consume plant-based mass gainers, or for those who do not consume enough foods that are considered complete proteins which contain the 9 essential amino acids (mostly found in animal protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs).
Many different brands of mass gainers combine BCAAs into their formula, such as this one here.
Taking a creatine supplement alongside your mass gainer is a great option if you are struggling to build muscle or put on weight since supplementing with creatine has been shown to help with both muscle performance along with muscle recovery.
If you are interested in taking creatine with your mass gainer, you can choose a brand that contains a combination such as this one here which uses creatine monohydrate (the most effective type of creatine).
However, if you would rather keep the two supplements separate, you can combine the two yourself by adding a serving of creatine into your mass gainer powder.
This way, you can manipulate the amount of creatine you are taking with your mass gainer, or cycle off creatine if you choose. For more guidance on how much creatine you should be taking, head over to our Creatine Calculator.
To learn more about creatine, check out these articles:
If you are consuming more servings of mass gainer than whole foods in order to consume enough calories to either maintain or gain weight, then you are likely missing out on essential nutrients that are found in whole foods.
If this is the case, then taking a high-quality greens supplement is a great way to help ensure that you are still getting enough essential vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t get from a typical mass gainer.
You could combine your scoop of greens with your mass gainer, or take it at a separate time of the day.
A few different greens supplements that I recommend are AG1 Athletic Greens, along with Organifi Green Juice supplement. Both of these greens supplements are rich in micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) and taste better than other greens powders on the market.
Can You Take Mass Gainer At Other Times of Day?
If your goal is to increase your calorie intake to put on more mass, then taking a mass gainer will be a helpful tool no matter what time of the day you are consuming it.
A mass gainer is simply a more convenient way to get a higher number of calories and would be comparable to having an additional meal throughout the day. For this reason, there is no bad time to consume your mass gainer apart from directly before a workout.
Some people prefer to take a full serving of mass gainer all at once, while others prefer to separate it into multiple portions throughout the day.
Ultimately, you should take your mass gainer whenever is most convenient for you (as long as it’s not affecting your workout) because a mass gainer will only help you to build muscle if you’re consistently consuming enough calories to facilitate muscle growth and you’re training hard enough in the gym to give your muscles a reason to grow.
Other Mass Gainer Resources
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.